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Rinse Cottage Cheese – Advance or Retreat on Discipline Newsletter #133 9-25-12 (Example)

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Tue, Oct 16, 2012

One of the stories in Jim Collins Good to Great is about a disciplined world-class athlete named Dave Scott, who won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon six times.  Despite having a training schedule that would burn at least 5,000 calories per day Dave Scott would still rinse his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off.dave scott2 resized 600

How many of you in our businesses have the discipline, commitment and dedication to achieve this level of excellence?

Rinsing your cottage cheese is an obsessive activity that few athletes undertake.  Does it give Dave Scott an advantage?  Of course it does!  If not physically then psychologically. 

The requirement of Strategic Discipline is not something that a good company may wish to consider.  It is the recipe for only those who wish to be Great!  If you recall Collins pointing out in Good to Great, “Good is the enemy of Great!”   You must have a sincere, burning desire to be great in order to undertake the disciplines required to achieve Strategic Discipline and meet or exceed the fundamental principles of the Rockefeller Habit Checklist.

In Dan Greer’s blog, Rinsing Your Cottage Cheese he states, “From a business planning model this represents the last 10 percent of work that most people are not willing to do or even know exists to make their project or program the best it possibly could be.  Most people are willing to settle for 75-90% effort and feel that should really represent the best they can produce.

Sometimes the last 10% represents seemingly little things like a spot on the carpet or windows that have not been cleaned.  However that can be the very thing that a customer will notice and come to the conclusion that if you do not care about those areas what else are you not doing to be your best that they cannot see."

Collins writes, “Everyone would like to be the best, but most organizations lack the discipline to figure out with egoless clarity what they can be the best at and the will to do whatever it takes to turn that potential into reality.”  Bottom line they lack the character and the discipline to rinse their cottage cheese.”

So why don’t companies have the character and discipline to rinse their cottage cheese?

We could start with a leader that doesn’t care, however I simply don’t believe there are many people in leadership positions who don’t care or at least care for the right things. 

Rather I believe the fault lies in the CEO/President/Leadership position failure to recognize how their ego is limiting their company’s growth.  Most of these leaders have come by their ego, through great sacrifices exhausting self-discipline, supreme confidence, and the illusion that all was accomplished without the significant help of any others.

It blinds them to the need to establish discipline within their organization.  They may have great, even extreme personal self-discipline yet this same discipline it not evident in the organization.

Remember Collins path from Good to Great, Build Up to Breakthrough requires Disciplined People, Disciplined Thought and Disciplined Action.  It should be achieved in just this order.

A company I worked with for a short time had several family members within the leadership group of their organization.  The difficulty this brings to determining objectivity is often unrecognized by the leader.  No matter how objective we are, children when in your business organization are almost impossible to judge objectively, and the workplace environment only makes this more challenging. 

In fact even if the President remains objective, the problem isn’t with the children skills, talents and capabilities,  it’s the people surrounding them that always feel that the family members are getting preferential treatment.  It’s difficult to curtail petty jealousies in a group without family ties, imagine the challenge this presents with them.

My short time with this President we made many strides in helping him and his company become more productive, yet he refused to allow us to move to the next step to get his leadership team involved. Was he protecting himself from objectively viewing the performance of his children in the organization?  It’s not clear to me whether that was true or perhaps he didn’t feel my contributions measured up to his expectations and that my involvement would serve as a catalyst to push the leadership team beyond their present performance levels.

Another business I worked with had a similar situation where a family member was involved in the organization.  His performance was stellar and many of his ideas served to catapult the company forward where the necessary manpower, ideas and resources had been lacking before.  He was strong willed and his influence on the leadership team at first I thought impeded them from speaking more openly.  

Yet in this same leadership group, father and son would openly disagree and have conflicts.  The value of having this occur in these weekly meeting rhythms encouraged the rest of the team to step up and voice their opinions as well.  When they realized the son could speak out and be overruled their confidence grew that their opinions mattered and that at worst their ideas could be shot down as well, however at least their input would be received.

The team grew through these meetings, the DNA of the leader, Dennis Haefner (See Ideal Computer Systems Story was passed on and eventually when the businesses was purchased this leadership team was seen as a source of strength by the purchasers and everyone maintained an important role in leading the company under the new ownership.   

Developing a strident discipline of meeting rhythms, dashboard metrics to measure your performance and achievement of priorities demands more from leadership and the executive team than many companies are willing to become accountable for.  Often this has been compared to disciplining our children.  Too frequently we allow them to perform at standards lower than what was demanded of us as we grew up, under the disguise of “their good kids.” 

We fail to discipline not because it will hurt them, rather we lack the energy and commitment to realize how important discipline plays in the role of helping our children achieve.

Discipline in our homes, with our businesses, demands a higher standard.  Reaching the apex of our capabilities is not for the weak, but for the determined and courageous who seek to become more than what we believe is in us. 

A Gazelles coach can be a healthy objective observer to help your company raise the bar on performance and establish a standard of discipline that you did not believe you were capable of.

Is your business retreating or advancing toward discipline?   Can you truly tell?  Have you had your team complete the Rockefeller Habits Checklist recently?   More importantly have you had your team complete The Advantage’s Organizational Health Survey, or perhaps assess your business sell-ability score through John Warrilow’s Built to Sell Website. 

Perhaps it’s time to consider acquiring a coach for your business to help you remain objective and achieve the vision you’ve had for your businesses growth.  If so you may wish to also consider a Positioning Systems Needs Assessment

Topics: Discipline, Good to Great, Strategic Discipline


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